Moscow: The Real McCoy Bootlegger’s Bar & Club

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McCoy-with-rumStyled after the 1920’s Prohibition Era in the United States, the Real McCoy is a favorite haunt of expats and tourists alike. The bar was named after the expression “The Real McCoy,” a saying that evolved to describe the non-imitation liquor smuggled into the US by the infamous rum runner William McCoy. The bar caters to the after-work crowd, offering live music several nights a week, and the all-night party scene, which tends to fill the 24 hour bar closer to midnight. With a wide variety of affordable drinks, the bar tends to get busy and has a reputation as one of Moscow’s most notorious pick-up dive bars. Promoting itself with the tagline “We Never Cut the Liquor” it is easy to see why this The Real McCoy continues to draw a crowd.

 пл. Кудринская, 1/Koudrinskaya sq. 1 (in the base of the Stalin skyscraper), Moscow

Metro Barrikadnaya

Moscow, Russia: The Vodka Museum

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Surprisingly, or fittingly, depending on your perspective, Moscow is home to a museum, in the term’s looser sense, dedicated solely to vodka. Located near the expansive Izmaylovo Market and marked by yellow footprints imprinted with the word “vodka” as you approach, the museum consists of a small space displaying a wide assortment of vodka bottles and paraphernalia in glass cases. The cost of admission comes with a free shot of vodka at the end of your self-guided tour through the space. The main attraction is the attached cafe where you can enjoy traditional Russian fare and shots of a wide variety of popular vodkas including the museum’s collection of infused flavors.

73G, Izmailovskoye Shosse, Moscow

Moscow: Monument to Peter the Great-Moskva River

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Not far from the Kremlin, towering high above the Moscow River is a monument to Peter the Great. Not a subtle or otherwise non-invasive monument to the Russian leader, but rather more of an oversized monstrosity that looks like a tangled piece of a shipwreck. Although you may first wonder why there is a monument to Peter the Great, the namesake of St. Petersburg, in Moscow in the first place, inevitably you will return to trying to understand how such a large (94 meters high) statue so offensive to the landscape was even put up in the first place. Erected in 1997, the statue was designed by Zurab Tsereteli, a Georgian artist. Although the statue has always drawn mixed reactions, including an attempt by a radical group to blow it up, it is something that has to be seen in person to truly appreciate its controversial impact.

Moscow’s Most Famous Amusement Park: Gorky Park

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Stumbling upon Gorky Park, or as it is formally known, Central Park of Culture and Rest, is a lot like what one would imagine what it is like to come upon a mirage in the desert. On foot, you will navigate quite a bit of desolate road before coming upon the park, which upon first impression almost looked abandon (and would later, upon closer inspection, appear the same). Upon purchasing your ticket you gain entrance to a less than magical, yet thoroughly amusing, funfair. Before testing out any of the rides, a thorough survey of the park uncovered several desolate areasthat housed rides, seemingly non-operational for years, that were covered in overgrown grass, yet still easily accessible to roaming tourists. Some highlights of the park include an actual Buran space shuttle that was originally meant for space flight but met its destiny in Gorky Park due to a lack of funding, an amazing ride called ‘Break Dance’ that seems straight out of the 1980’s and “Die Fantastische Reise” (“The Fantastic Journey”) a German ride through America’s Mount Rushmore.

9, Krymskiy Val, Moscow

Moscow’s Cat Theater

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A full length theater performance delivered by cats, yep, an entire cast of cats! Performances by the Moscow Cat Theater generally run over an hour and feature performances by a rotating ensemble of about 100, formerly stray, now fantastically trained circus cats. Created by Yuri Kuklachev, who was trained at a Russian clown school, the idea to incorporate cats into his performances first took shape in the early 1970’s and became a part of his act at the Moscow State Circus. He founded the Cat Theater in 1990, which continues to host regular performances in Moscow in addition to frequent world tours. The cats perform a myriad of tricks, including challenging feats such as walking across a tightrope and skiing across the stage to less dramatic acts  like hanging on a scratching post while being passed over the heads of the audience. There probably are few other circus or theater performances as unique as this. Although generally geared towards children, cat fanatics, curious travelers, fans of the stage and techno music lovers alike can all enjoy the entertainment value brought forth by the Cat Theater.

25, Kutuzovsky Prospekt, Moscow